Coming out of the “mask” with a bigger smile!

Part 1 of a 2 part series - Kendra Nicks, Adult Physical Therapist

In the US Military, there is a phrase that can be applied to any difficult situation.  The phrase “Embrace the Suck”, while offensive to some, could have its origin from William Shakespeare: “Let thee embrace me, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course” He was writing about how to get through an adverse situation.  So how can we apply this idea to our current situation?

I believe that it takes a very conscious decision to face adversity.  In life, we cannot control the situation but we CAN control how we react to it.  You must “embrace” the fact that the situation we are in right now is the new (although temporary) normal.  Once we accept this, we can then make a conscious decision to make the very best of it. Commit to coming out of the other side a stronger, more adaptable person.

In this time of isolation and uncertainty, it is likely that many people are experiencing some negative emotions that can have a serious effect on mental and physical health and pain levels.  It is important in this time to make sure that you are doing everything you can to battle these negative emotions. You will find some suggestions below that may help you “embrace the suck” and turn the situation into one that is not only bearable, but even may strengthen your mental and emotional state.

Control your diet!

I am not referring to eating junk food or extra meals because you are bored, (although those are not good habits either!).  I am talking about your “information diet.” In a recent workbook put out by The Wellness Society, controlling your information diet is explained in the following way:  Stress and anxiety, which are common negative emotions right now, are fueled by negatively biased information. This may be from your own mind or from an outside source.  Many news sources are very negatively biased, that is what sells, so by controlling the information that you feed your emotional state, you can starve out fear, anxiety, and stress.  Now don’t understand me to say that you should bury your head in the sand and be ignorant to what is going on in the world. Instead, find trustworthy yet uplifting sources for your information.   For a few examples, visit the link below to the workbook by The Wellness society.

Find your Funny:)

Numerous studies show humor is good medicine.  The benefits of humor and laughter include diffusing tension and replacing unpleasantness with pleasure.  Laughter even has some physical benefits. Laughter can exercise and relax muscles, increase respiration, infuse oxygen, stimulate circulation, improve immunity, and decrease stress hormones.  So, during this difficult time, find some humor in the world! There are some really great places to find humor. Consider sources such as podcasts or YouTube. Streaming radio stations such as Pandora or Spotify have comedy channels as well.  Of course, there is the vast library of funny television and movies available on streaming channels such as Netflix, Prime, and Hulu. You may be one of the many people who enjoy gallows humor: finding enjoyment in seeing the irony in a grim situation.

Reframe the situation!

Another way to “embrace the suck” has roots in ancient Eastern philosophy. “When we deny what reality is giving us,  then we create suffering. So life is a dance between minimizing expectations and surrendering to what our lives actually reveal to us.”  We must choose to look at things from a different perspective.  By not dwelling on the things that we cannot do during this time, we can, instead, choose to find flowers amongst the weeds.  Consider how our lives might be, had we suffered through The Spanish Flu in 1919. If we look at our current situation from that lense, we can find many ways that we are truly blessed.  This isolation concept would have been very different without the technology we have today. We have the ability to stay connected to friends and family in real time through telephone, FaceTime, Zoom and others.  Consider this an opportunity to learn a new technology, find a new hobby, learn a new skill, or get some much needed rest. The internet has free options: learn a new language, take a drawing or painting class, learn meditation and mindfulness,  learn to play a musical instrument, learn a new card game, dance move or exercise…. The list goes on! To find more on these exciting ideas please check out the link below from the Wellness Society.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series with more thoughts about how to make the best of the worst….